The Ramblers by Aidan Donnelley Rowley. New York: William Morrow, 2016. 381 pages. ****
Three main characters trying to make some sense of their lives find themselves in New York City and over the course of seven days their lives intersect and set them on a new path. Clio Marsh dreads the Thanksgiving holidays and reminisces about life with her erratic mother and distant father. When her boyfriend suggests that they move in together, Cloe has a panic attack and tries to find the courage to tell Henry about her mother's death. Smith Anderson, Cloe's best friend, is preparing for her sister's wedding while recovering from a broken heart. Being the daughter of a prominent New York family doesn't prevent her from waking up on her bathroom floor wearing a vomit stained maid of honor dress and her mother entering her apartment. Tate Pennington returned to New York City to follow his passion as a photographer after selling his App and making millions. Tate can't believe his good fortune in running into a former classmate from college, the beautiful and highly photogenic Smith Anderson.
Told from the point of view of the three main characters enriches and lends a believability to the story. All of the main characters are likable and I found myself very sympathetic to their individual situations. What could have been a predictable and cliched story instead is a heart-warming one of friendship, love, secrets and imperfect families. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays; no presents, no pressure. Rowley highlights the family interactions and the anxiety experienced without the distractions of presents, etc. The tension of meeting someone's family for the first time is incredibly stressful and wonderfully portrayed in this realistic plot.
I received a copy for a review.
Born and raised in New York City, Aidan Donnelley Rowley graduated from Yale University and received her law degree from Columbia University. She is the author of a previous novel, Life After Yes, and the creator of the Happier Hours Literary Salons. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and three daughters.